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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in a rut and don't know how to get out of it. I need some help doing some brainstorming. We have a very limited budget and need to be able to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack for each day w/out breaking the bank.

Buying meat directly from the farmer is out - we can't afford it and the few times we've had a start on saving up for getting a 1/4 cow something on the car needs our attention. Raw dairy is out - the cost to travel is prohibitive plus dh and I can't stand the taste of 100% grassfed dairy. Grains as a cheap filler are out - We don't seem to thrive well on a diet heavy on grains so meals like beans and rice just don't cut it. Gluten should be out - we're holding off on gluten with dd and she loves to have what we have so ideally we really should cut it out as well.

Once our order comes in we're going to be taking the Blue Ice Gold Therapeutics which should cover Vits A, D, and K2. I have a Cal/Mag supplement coming (one from Life Time I've seen recommended because I don't think the one SF recommends is a wise idea) and ConcenTrace. Butter is our primary fat but it's non-organic because we'd go broke buying the other stuff.

I think breakfast will be a mix of grain based dishes like oatmeal, pancakes (coconut flour), and muffins (just need to find a good gf muffin recipe).

I think for lunches we'd stick with leftovers because a warm meal is so appealing this time of year. Which leaves me with the need to plan 14 different dinners so I can go grocery shopping on Friday.

Any good meal ideas to focus on nutrient density cheaply?
 

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Soup, soup, and more soup. One of the cheapest meals there is. And at this time of year nice and warm.

I make a point of buying meat on the bone as much as possible, just so I can make broth. Bonus is that they're generally cheaper cuts, too. You can either toss them in meat and all or you can eat the meat and then toss the bones into the soup pot.

I can't handle grains very well either, but I can handle beans when they're in soup, since they're an adjunct to all the nummies in the soup, rather than the main focus, they provide a cheap boost to the protein level.

Depending on where you live, curry may also be a cheap meal. I don't know how much coconut milk goes for where you are, though. Again, I make it with some meat, but I also can add lentils to it to supplement the meat.
 

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Totally agree with SOUP!
We try to purchase a whole chicken and cut it up into pieces to cook with in separate meals. Save the carcass for soup. If that's too much trouble, just roast the whole chicken and safe the carcass for soup later, or when you have another carcass. I tend to wait until I have two of them to make soup.
Use carrot peels, mushroom ends and add to the soup.
 

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If money's an issue, I'd focus on traditional preparation methods and worry less about organic/free range meats and organic produce. Do your own fermenting rather than buying fermented foods- lacto-fermented veggies are CHEAP when you make them yourself.

Buy whatever quality meat you can afford, and stock up on the cheaper cuts- the fattier cuts, the bonier cuts, and the organ meats. Save all veggie scraps for broth making- leftover bones from whatever meats you ate plus carrot peelings, etc, and you're able to make stock from "leftovers" and then use that stock for snacking on or as a base for meals.
 

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Here's my articles on budgeting- http://cookingtf.com/budgeting.html The one on what to do if you're lost your job does have some pretty strong ideas.

We're on a bare-bones budget here as my income has been cut in half. I'm not buying anything organic except that which I have to due to our food allergies (we're celiac). I'm not even buying organic meat right now, and the dairy we do consume (butter and cream) is store-bought and pasteurized.

To cut budgets, we serve less meat and more veggies/grain at each meal. Make a veggie the focus of the meal and the meat a side-dish. Go for cheap cuts like ground beef, bone-in chicken thighs and legs, whole chickens, beef stew meat. Do everything from scratch possible, and do buy in bulk to lower your overall price. Try to find a local buying club. Find the local farmer's market and bulk-buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, butternut squash, cabbage. They all can be kept in the basement or a root cellar and store for quite a while. I recently paid $9 for 65 pounds of cabbage.

Go ahead and make stock with your store-bought meat bones. That's what I am doing. Do lots of veggies and lentil soups.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
See, that's what I wanted to avoid. I don't tolerate it well if we cut back on the meat too much. I used to do just fine (we were l/o veg way back when), but if I try that now I'm not a very fun mom to be around. I can stock up at times when the local SHARE offers decent meat (meaning it hasn't been overly processed), but find it difficult to come up with the money some months. I got 10lbs of chicken leg quarters a couple of months ago for $0.89/lb and made oodles of stock with that.

We bought a huge cabbage at the Farmer's market and made a whole lotta sauerkraut that way as well as some pickled beets and lf cucumbers from our garden. Even with using Redmond's Real Salt it's most definitely a big savings.

1littlebit -

Quote:
Cuts of meat such as chuck steak, blade steak, shin, flank and silverside will all produce delicious meals when cooked slowly with vegetables and seasonings.
from here
The NY Times also has an article

My understanding is that they are typically the fattier pieces of meat and/or tougher pieces of meat. As far as ground beef goes...I usually go with the one that has the highest fat content. After cooking each of the different types usually ends up with the same amt of fat so why pay for the pricier, leaner ones...especially when TFers usually want the fattier ones anyway.

You might also be able to get some pricier cuts of meat for cheap if it's your grocery store's loss leader.

I guess what I'm looking for is less the broad strokes and more specifics. I've got the broad strokes in mind, just need some ideas on how to translate that into a game plan. (We've already cut our budget as far as we can and can't go any lower on the thermostat than we have at this point. We had one of those energy audit things done and compared to other houses our size we use ridiculously small amounts of energy.)

My issue...I run out of ideas for how to make chuck roast. I've got one really good recipe and get stuck with how to go from there.

As far as where we shop...it's usually Target (dh's second job is there so we get a discount and it can really make a big difference), a local chain, Aldi, and our local co-op for their once a month 20% off member sale.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pampered_mom View Post
My issue...I run out of ideas for how to make chuck roast. I've got one really good recipe and get stuck with how to go from there.
So, chuck roast... Basically, chuck roast wants slow wet cooking methods, but nothing says that has to be whole or in the oven.

Slice it across the grain, then cut the slices into bite-sized pieces and use it in chili, sloppy joes, or stew. Goes nicely over mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower.
Cover the whole roast with beer, ginger ale, root beer, coke, apple juice, etc. (whatever you have), add spices to complement, cover and bake long and slow (300F for at least 3 hours). Then shred it while it's hot and treat it like pulled pork (BBQ) or shredded pork (Chinese or Mexican). You can make "rolls" or "tacos" with a cabbage or lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla, or you can take the shredded meat and add it to a stir-fry (just long enough to heat it).
Simmer it for a couple hours, chill it, cube it, then pan fry it with some boiled cubed potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. I top this with herbed mayo and just eat it as is with a cold veggie/salad on the side. Bonus is that the meat was boiled, save that water and use it for your next batch of stock.

A dish we had the other night, that was surprisingly good... I had 1/2 a pound of leftover ground beef and an entire head of cabbage to use up, along with some stock. I shredded up the cabbage, and sauteed half of it until it was wilty, then added onions and the beef. Cooked it until the cabbage melted. Then I added the rest of the cabbage to the stock, along with some carrot, beet and potato to make borscht. The soup became the "main" with the meat on the side (or you could put it in the bottom of the bowl and pour the soup over). We still each got a good portion of meat, but we also got a healthy dose of veggies and plenty of good fats, along with a warming stock.
 

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I have a couple gf muffin recipes on my blog, if you're interested.
I buy the cheapest roast there is, and I either make it in the slow cooker, or roast it in the oven (4-5 hours at 300F with 2 c. broth). I stick some carrots and sweet potatoes in there for the last hour or so. Then make gravy with the juice/broth (I thicken with sweet potato starch because we're GF too). Then you can use the leftovers in homemade hash the next morning (fry it up with some coconut oil and some chunks of potatoes or sweet potatoes) or stew for lunch.

We roast a chicken (69 cents a pound at Super Walmart) and then pull any extra meat off it and make chicken salad for the next day, and make broth out of the carcass.

My grandmother made boiled potatoes almost every night for dinner. The leftovers could be used as homefries the next day, rewarmed potatoes (cooked slowly in a cast iron skillet with milk and butter), scalloped potatoes, or all sorts of things). Potatoes are cheap.

Fried rice (lots of rice with chicken or pork pieces, scrambled egg, and veggies -- frozen corn, peas, diced onion and carrot).

Eggs. Cheap protein. Scramble them in butter or coconut oil. Serve over pasta with slices of ham and tomato.

I just ordered a packet of tomato seeds and I'm growing the plants in my window, seeing if I can have good tomatoes in the winter. You're already making saurkraut. Carrots are cheap. Have you fermented carrots? We do a lot of cooked carrots, raw carrots (my DH is sick of carrots).

We make smoothies -- coconut milk, canned peaches in juice, frozen blueberries from the summertime, a banana and some ice.

Are you doing gluten-free oatmeal? You said oatmeal for breakfast, and then said you were GF... We do cream of rice for a hot cereal which isn't very expensive. Add raisins and a little maple syrup or brown sugar. We do buckwheat waffles.

What do you buy that is cheap, and we can figure out other things to make with them...
 

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We live on very little. I look around for the best deals, and eat pretty much 95% TF. Here is what we do:

Grain for $10-15 for 80 lbs of organic grain from local amish farmer. We make sourdough bread and always have that on hand.

For meat, we mainly eat liver from grass fed cows. Strange how liver is always the cheapest, and we don't mind the taste. I found it for $1 lb on sale at a farmers market, and usually pay $3 lb otherwise.

We use loads of veggies, and try to get them at farmers markets, but now that that is over, we rely on what we have stored up. We got organic potatoes for $.50 lb, and went apple picking on an organic farm and got 4 bushels for $20. I helped the farmer pick raspberries and would get half of whatever I picked for free. My daughter loved to "help" pick too. I helped more occasionally for squash or deer meat. I would grind wheat for a local vendor at a market in exchange for a bag of sweet potatoes.

For dairy, we get raw organic milk for $4.50 gallon, and make tons of yogurt and kefir. I buy raw cheese for $2.69 lb.

Everything else, we try to get wholesale, and if you are looking for something in particular, try me. I found on ebay Himalayan salt, 200 lbs for $100. There are deals out there just waiting to be found.

Only thing I learned is that eating TF cheaply requires lots of work. I hope to have some land someday to raise goats, and a garden. Perhaps it wont be so hard then.
 

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What about bean dishes, how well do you do with beans? I made a very yummy dish yesterday that costs very very little to make. The leftovers are just as good and could be eaten whenever. We had some rice with it, but it's not even needed.

http://onebusymama-erica.blogspot.co...d-lentils.html

Other than that, buying a chicken every 2 weeks, even if it does seem to cost alot.........is really frugal. You can stretch a chicken into 3 or 4 meals then make broth with the carcass for quite a few more meals.
 

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sardine sandwiches
I like them with esto (homemade) dds like them ith a slice of tomato

canned salmon pancakes. you can push them further if your grate some potatoes into them but dont forget to salt the batter. my dds love them with cukumber and avocado on top.

salad at every meal, we just do cut up cucumber and tomatoes with olive oil salt and ACV.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pampered_mom View Post
My issue...I run out of ideas for how to make chuck roast. I've got one really good recipe and get stuck with how to go from there.
Here's a good recipe for "Dill Roast":
2-3 lb roast
1/2 cup water or juice
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon dried dill, depending on how much you like dill!
Salt and pepper

Let cook on low for 6-8 hours, then add about a cup of whole-fat plain yogurt (yum!) and mix altogether (if you want the roast to remain whole and not break apart during the stirring, just take it out and cut it how you want). I usually steam some carrots and serve the meat and yogurt sauce over egg noodles, but you can serve it with whatever you feel is best! It is a tasty, simple meal.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bluebirdmama1 View Post

For dairy, we get raw organic milk for $4.50 gallon, and make tons of yogurt and kefir. I buy raw cheese for $2.69 lb.
Where in the world do you get raw cheese for that price??
 

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Originally Posted by taygirl View Post
Where in the world do you get raw cheese for that price??
Whole sale price from Grafton Cheese Co in Vermont. I have to buy atleast 5 lbs to get that price, and it is off cuts, not perfect squares, more like triangles. PM me for more info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
: Now we're cooking! (pun intended)

I'm actually glad krankedyann said something about root veggies. Our local farmer's market is a fair weather kind of thing. I know farther north there are some farmer's markets that go indoors in the winter, but unfortunately ours isn't one of them. My mom went with us to see a holiday train display today and on the way there mentioned that one of our favorite farms was having a sale on their root crops on Saturday. We're definitely going to check it out.

Any suggestions on storing large amounts of bulk goods (grains, veggies, etc) well so that when we have access to the $$ to make the investment we have a way to be sure it ends up worth it from beginning to end?
 

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I have recently discovered that adding a tablespoon of coconut oil a bowl to soups and stews makes them more filling..they tend to be too low in fat for me if I don't do that so I have to keep eating which does not save money!

When I get in a rut for cheap meat recipes/inspiration I use www.recipezaar.com and make them tf. Like you, I need my meat but run out of chuck and ground beef ideas.

The butcher at the local grocery is my neighbor so I need to tell her that I will take leftovers/scraps/bones if they are available.

Jen
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pampered_mom View Post
Any suggestions on storing large amounts of bulk goods (grains, veggies, etc) well so that when we have access to the $$ to make the investment we have a way to be sure it ends up worth it from beginning to end?
For grains, get empty food-grade 5 gallon buckets and pour the grains in and slap the lid on. Good for a year.

For veggies, you have to create a root cellar environment for them, either outside or in your basement. For example, you can pack potatoes into vegetable boxes in shredded newspaper so they aren't touching each other and keep them in the dark.
 
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